Earlier this week I received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. My gratitude is boundless, and I personally am hopeful that my community, along with much of the world, is on the road to reopening.
For businesses, shops, restaurants and other venues, this is the news they have spent months on end hoping for. The inability to gather together in person decimated some industries and dealt a serious blow to others. The restaurant industry suddenly shifted to takeout-only, even in places like steakhouses where takeout would have previously seemed impossible. Boutique shops jumped on the curbside pickup bandwagon, realizing quickly that they were only able to move merchandise if they were able to meet their clients' needs while adhering to lockdown restrictions. Above all else, businesses realized that the internet was their lifeline to surviving COVID-19.
Having a full and vibrant online presence was never more important for a business than in the time of lockdowns. I've presented several times on the concept of the 'virtual storefront,' and how it's important to put as much time and attention into your website as you would your brick and mortar storefront, since the website is what takes the storefront's place in a digital economy.
Yet just because things are now reopening, that doesn't mean that we've automatically reached the end of the internet age. Far from it.
The world is a different place after COVID-19, and many of those changes may well become permanent. Bustling office buildings and busy downtown corridors will be slow to return as more and more offices move into at least a hybrid work-from-home model. Crowds at shops and malls and restaurants may come back, but many will be nervous about being in large gatherings for at least some time.
Most importantly, the internet has now firmly entrenched itself as the driving force behind all commerce - a role that it had spent decades shaping up for. Advances in technology mean that we no longer need to be in the same physical space in order to connect with each other, exchange goods and services, or form a relationship. The internet will never entirely replace human connections, nor should it, but improvements in speed and availability have come close to replicating the experience.
So why, when you can finally see people again, should you keep your energy focused on your online presence?
Broader Base - While some of your clients and potential clients cannot wait to get out of the house, others will take time to re-emerge and will forever be more comfortable doing business online. Do not ignore one at the expense of the other.
Wider Reach - In a service-based business for example, a physical presence limits you to roughly a 30-45 minute radius. Unless you are offering an incredibly rare product or service, customers and clients will usually default to a closer option. In the virtual world though distance quickly becomes an afterthought.
Forward Thinking - As technology continues to improve, businesses without a comprehensive online presence will simply be left in the dust. Your clients are turning online to scout out your services. If you're not meeting them where they are at online, they have no problem giving their business to a competitor who will.
My goal in running this agency is to help make sure small businesses can stay competitive online, and that they don't have to break their budget to do it. Remember, if your website is looking tired and rundown and lacking fresh content, it's just as enticing as a brick and mortar storefront with chipped paint, falling shingles, and a tired and faded window display. Contact me today and let's work together to make your digital presence shine.